3A bi-district track: Brunkow, Dunford set the pace

Evergreen hurdler, Prairie distance runner are local winners

By Meg Wochnick, Columbian staff writer

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SUMNER — It’s true: sprinting bored Vanessa Brunkow.

The 100 and 200 meters may be two of the more exciting track and field races to watch, but running those races eventually became a yawner for the the Evergreen High junior.

“I needed something exciting,” she said. “I needed something to jump over.”

So that’s why this spring, she scratched her long-time sprints events in favor of the 100 hurdles, or in her words, something to jump over.

Now, she’s not only a bi-district champion after Friday’s personal-best time of 15.39 seconds at the first day of the 3A bi-district meet, she’s headed to state for the first time, too.

All in all, not bad for a first-year hurdler.

And yes, the boredom is gone.

“This is exciting,” she said. “This is all knew, and I learned to love it.

“It’s now as boring as the (100) and the (200).”

The top five times and marks from each event advance to next weekend’s state meet at Mount Tahoma Stadium in Tacoma.

Brunkow was one of two local winners Friday. The other, Prairie’s Meri Dunford, led a 1-4-5 finish for Clark County runners in the girls 1,600. Fort Vancouver’s Emily Phelps (5:16.28) and Savanna Craig (5:16.56) were fourth and fifth.

Similar to Brunkow with the hurdles, Dunford gets a ‘new’ tag, too. New to the sport of track and field, that is.

It’s a first-year sport for the Falcons’ ninth grader, and unlike many distance runners who participate in track, Dunford doesn’t run cross country in the fall; she’s a soccer player.

“I played it my whole life,” she said after winning the 1600 in 5 minutes, 9.45 seconds. “I never really ran before, but doing it now, I found that I really like it.”

Now a possible tough decision on soccer or cross country looms after what hopes to be a memorable trip to state.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” said Dunford, who also will double up and run the 3,200 Saturday.

Prairie was the local girls team of the day when it came to advancing athletes to state. After Dunford came Mary McLeod in the 400 (third, 59.93), and in the throws, Hannah Nienaber (javelin) and Abigail Brotherton (shot put) had personal-best marks to finish second and fourth, respectively, to earn their first trip to state.

Around the track

Another ninth grader, Mountain View high jumper Erika Strait, had a big showing Friday. She cleared a personal-best of 5 feet, 3 inches to finish second. She was one of two freshmen in the competition. … The area’s two state qualifiers on the boys side came by Evergreen. Pole vaulter Jed Shaver had some theatrics to qualify for state; he needed a jump-off after tying with three other vaulters for two state spots, and secured the final berth at 12 feet. Sprinter Orin Johnson was fifth in the 400 meters (50.09). The meet continues Saturday. Mountain View’s Katherine Kadrmas was third in the 100 hurdles (15.72).